OBSESSION, PAIN, AND THE SEARCH LIKE SOMETHING LIKE TRANSCENDENCE IN COMPETITIVE YOGA
“Extraordinarily thoughtful…Hell-Bent stretches and reaches and bends in several seemingly impossible directions at the same time. It is as once a searching act of self-examination, a fascinating scientific investigation, a brave spiritual endeavor, and a fair-minded look at one of yoga’s most controversial icons.”
—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
Hell-Bent explores a fascinating, often surreal world at the extremes of American yoga. Benjamin Lorr walked into his first yoga studio on a whim, overweight and curious, and quickly found the yoga reinventing his life. He was studying Bikram Yoga (or “hot yoga”) when a run-in with a master and competitive yoga champion led him into an obsessive subculture—a group of yogis for whom eight hours of practice a day in 110 degree heat was just the beginning.
So begins a journey. Populated by athletic prodigies, wide-eyed celebrities, legitimate medical miracles, and predatory hucksters, it’s a nation-spanning trip—from the jam-packed studios of New York to the athletic performance labs of the University of Oregon to the stage at the National Yoga Asana Championship, where Lorr competes for glory.
The culmination of two years of research, featuring hundreds of interviews with yogis, scientists, doctors, and scholars, Hell-Bent is a wild exploration. A look at the science behind a controversial practice, a story of greed, narcissism and corruption, and a mind-bending tale of personal transformation, it is a book that will not only challenge your conception of yoga, but will change the way you view the fragile, inspirational limits of the human body itself.